The message this spring for the Clemson football team is about getting tough. Everything Dabo Swinney and his staff are doing is about making sure their players keep their edge, which they felt they lost last year in big games against Notre Dame and Ohio State.
Having an edge or a chip on their shoulder is partly responsible for the Tigers rise as one of college football’s elite programs. They used their edge to win two national championships and six straight ACC Championships.
That is why, when last week’s scrimmage was over and the Tigers had just finished goal line work, he brought the team together for one-on-one drills.
“We circled everyone up and we finished practice with one-on-ones,” Swinney said. “DBs-wideouts, one-on-ones, OL-DL in front of the whole team and everyone cheering and watching. Just really just trying to compete like we need to and creating that edge that we need.”
Swinney said the edge showed up in the scrimmage prior to the one-on-ones, especially in the trenches.
“It is just a very competitive thing. When you have good-on-good like we do, you are going to lose some, and you are going to win some. All in all, we are making some strides. It is encouraging,” the Clemson coach said.
Because there are a lot of young players on the team, especially the 12 early enrollees, Swinney feels it is important to expose them to what it is like at the college level.
“They are battling and that is all you can ask for,” Swinney said. “So, we got the right guys. I think by the time we get to September… That is what I am more encouraged about than anything.”
Last spring, because of COVID-19, the Tigers lost their last six spring practices, they did not get a summer. The area it hit the most was the youngest area on the team … the offensive line.
“We really, most games, felt like we could play six guys. The year before, we could play eleven. And the year before that we could play eleven,” Swinney said. “It makes a difference, especially over the long haul of a season.
“I think by the time this year, by the time we get to September. I think we will be back in that nine, ten, eleven guys that will not just be able to play, but go play winning football for the Tigers. So, I am encouraged. We got a long way to go, but I am encouraged.”